Thursday, June 23, 2011

Walmart: Too Big to Sue? | Common Dreams

Walmart: Too Big to Sue? | Common Dreams

The Roberts court decision to block the class action lawsuit for sex discrimination effectively defines Walmart as 'too big to sue'

by Laura Flanders
Let's get this right: the world's biggest boss, supported by companies as diverse as Altria, Bank of America, Microsoft and General Electric and backed up by the godfather of big business (the US Chamber of Commerce) has persuaded the US supreme court that thousands of women workers can't possibly share enough of an interest to constitute a class?It's hard to know which part of the court's decision in Dukes v Walmart hurts equity most: the assault on class-action jurisprudence generally, at a time of shrinking tools for workers seeking redress, or the defeat of history's biggest gender-based claim before a court that, for the first time, includes two women, one of whom (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) made her reputation in sex discrimination law.Dividing 5-4, in Dukes v Walmart, the supreme court on Monday dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that companywide policy gave local managers too much discretion in pay and promotion decisions, leaving Walmart employees at thousands of Walmart and Sam's Club stores vulnerable to gender stereotypes. (The company changed the format of its name since the case was filed.) The plaintiffs "provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority.In fact, absent a company-wide memo mandating discrimination, the justices could discern no problematic culture at all. Holding managers' meetings in Hooters? Nope. Referring to women workers as "Janie Qs?" Nah-uh. Paying women less than male workers in every job classification in every region? Explaining, as one plaintiff was told, that Walmart pays men more because "they have families to support?"

and so it goes,

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